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Help with maps, and mining claim overlays

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Hi everyone --

I hope I'm posting this in the right forum.  I live in Florida, and travel to county seats in Arizona is problematic for research purposes.  I have had tremendous success nugget hunting with my GPX4500 in a very specific area of Arizona, and am currently trying to find maps for the area.  What would be ideal would be a digital topo map with mining claim overlays, but I don't think something like that exists as of yet.  I'm pretty klutzy and not very proficient with a cell phone, but if that's the solution, I'll learn.

I have been to mylandmatters and thediggings, but neither of those sites are helpful with specific boundaries.  Also confusing to me are the "checkerboard" features of adjacent Township/Range squares...one will have active claims, and the others next to it will be "empty" -- but owned by a railroad company.  If someone could shed some light on this for me in layman's terms, I'd really appreciate it!  Is it possible to apply for special permission to the railroad company?

I'm "old school" with maps and like to hold something in my hand, but I recognize the value in having digital access that can be zoomed in without losing resolution.  What kind of maps or map sites do you like?  There are some mining clubs with claims in this area, and, ultimately, I'd like to create some sort of "master overlay" so I can see who owns what, and perhaps give me some guidance as to which club is better-positioned than another in terms of location.  I really only need a map that covers a handful of Township/Range squares.  It covers parts of two different 7.5-minute quadrangles.

Thanks so much for any help!


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The only place you can see maps of the specific boundaries of mining claims is in the original notice of location recorded at the county recorders. Without exception every valid mining claim has a notice recorded at the county.

Luckily for you all counties in Arizona provide online access to these records. No need to leave Florida or even the comfort of your favorite chair.

This makes the task of determining where the claims are located a fairly straightforward process.

1. Use Land Matters or the BLM MLRS to see what mining claims the BLM has listed as active in your area of interest. Do Not use TheDiggings for this purpose, they have not updated their mining claims info since January of 2021. The various paid services only update monthly at best. Only Land Matters and the MLRS update twice monthly.

2. Write down the claim name, locator name and location date of each claim. It's not a bad idea to download the Serial Register Page (SRP) from Land Matters while you are at it. The SRP has all the details about the claim and the claim history with the BLM.

3. Search the county recorders office online for the location notices. Land Matters provides links to those County Recorder sites on their Mining Claim maps. Start your searching with the claim name. Pay close attention to location dates and locator names because some claim names are very common and some claims have been relocated.

4. Download copies of the location notices and plot them onto a paper topo map with a pencil and ruler. This is where a good knowledge of the Township/Range/Section public survey will come in handy.

5. You now have a "current" old school claims map of your area of interest. Always check for monuments on the ground before prospecting. The information on the recorders site may be as much as 110 days behind new locations and the BLM information may be months behind the "on the ground" reality.

That's the simple version.

As far as those railroad patents go - don't waste your time. They are off limits private property and the owners will not allow prospecting without a contract you can't afford.

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Thank you, Clay, very very much for taking the time to explain in detail all this!  I will study what you wrote, and hopefully I can navigate the sites to arrive at a map I can use.

Thank you again!

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